Short Course Description

History 9832b is a studio course on interactive exhibit design, intended primarily for public historians and digital humanists. Students will learn how to create interactive exhibits through a series of hands-on projects that teach the basics of interaction design, physical computing, and desktop fabrication. No prior experience is necessary.

Application Process

Since the demand for this course is greater than we can accommodate, potential students have to apply. Preference will be given to students in the public history MA program, but other graduate students may take it with my permission. Contact me at for more information.


In this course you will be graded on your documentation of the design process (25%), the project(s) that you develop (50%), and your presentations in multiple media (25%). Your final grade will reflect how much you’ve learned or accomplished in this course, rather than any overall level of technical attainment.

Draft Schedule

N.B. This is a representative list of topics, but the schedule will be adjusted to accommodate student interests and projects.

  • Jan 11 – Kits for cultural history; Brainstorming
    Background reading:

  • Jan 18 – Storyboards; Makedo
  • Jan 25 – Design thinking, affordances and ambiguity; interfaces; seamless and seamful design; MaKey MaKey
  • Feb 01 – Sensing with Phidgets in Processing

    1. Install Processing language (downloads)
    2. Sample Processing program: Java Examples -> Topics/Motion/Linear
    3. Install Phidgets drivers for OS (Mac OS X, Windows)
    4. Set up and test Phidgets with analog input (rotation sensor) using OS
    5. Phidgets 1011 User Guide
    6. Install PhidgetsForProcessing library: Open the Processing editor, choose Sketch -> Import Library -> Add Library, type “phidgets” in the search bar, choose PhidgetsForProcessing and press “Install” below. After install is finished, exit the editor and restart it
    7. Test Phidgets in Processing with InterfaceKit_Example sketch
    8. Experiment with other analog input sensors, e.g., linear slider, infrared distance, magnetic field, light, temperature, vibration, force, etc.
  • Feb 08 – Minimal computing and microcontroller platforms; Arduino
  • Feb 15 – Intro electronics; littleBits
  • Mar 01 – Designing in 3D; 3D printing demo; packaging and popup books
  • Mar 08 – Mechanical design; VEX and MicroRax; hi-low technology
  • Mar 15 – Work on projects
  • Mar 22 – Work on projects
  • Mar 29 – Work on projects
  • Apr 05 – Project demonstrations

Statement on Academic Offences

Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site:

Health and Wellness

As part of a successful graduate student experience at Western, we encourage students to make their health and wellness a priority. Western provides several on campus health-related services to help you achieve optimum health and engage in healthy living while pursuing your graduate degree. For example, to support physical activity, all students, as part of their registration, receive membership in Western’s Campus Recreation Centre. Numerous cultural events are offered throughout the year. Please check out the Faculty of Music web page

and our own McIntosh Gallery

Information regarding health- and wellness-related services available to students may be found at

Students seeking help regarding mental health concerns are advised to speak to someone they feel comfortable confiding in, such as their faculty supervisor, their program director (graduate chair), or other relevant administrators in their unit. Campus mental health resources may be found at

To help you learn more about mental health, Western has developed an interactive mental health learning module, found here:

This module is 30 minutes in length and provides participants with a basic understanding of mental health issues and of available campus and community resources. Topics include stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and eating disorders. After successful completion of the module, participants receive a certificate confirming their participation.